Coach Pete Carroll made it official Monday: Defensive stars Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril are done for the season, ahead of Sunday’s game vs. the 10-1 Eagles.
The health news that many Seahawks fans were dreading has come to pass — SS Kam Chancellor’s neck injury will keep him out for the rest of the season, with his career future unknown, according to Pete Carroll. The Seahawks coach also said DE Cliff Avril will undergo surgery Tuesday to fix a “disc-related” problem in his neck.
On his ESPN 710 radio show Monday, Carroll didn’t forecast further on Chancellor: “The future is up to him, and he’ll tell you what he wants to do.”
Chancellor, 29, was carted off the field late in the game at Arizona Nov. 9 with a stinger after he made a tackle, and hasn’t played since, although he has remained on the active roster. The Seahawks likely will place him on the injured reserve list this week to bring on another player.
At his weekly Monday afternoon presser at team headquarters, Carroll said Chancellor is “not in discomfort at all” and is not going to have surgery “as of now.” He didn’t go into details for reasons of privacy.
“I’m trying to be very respectful of Kam as far as calling shots, as far as what’s known and what’s talked about,” he said. “That’s not us, it’s him. We’ll support him all the way.”
Asked whether he’s thinking about the end of Chancellor’s career, Carroll said, “I’m not really considering or worrying about that now. Just going week to week. We’re just concerned about Kam, his mentality, how he’s doing. He’ll be in charge of all that.”
Chancellor was on hand along the sidelines in Santa Clara for the Seahawks’ 24-6 win Sunday.
“Kam was right with us,” Carroll said. “His voice was in the locker room. His presence was totally there. These guys (Chancellor, Avril and CB Richard Sherman, out after Achilles tendon surgery) have been fantastic. They have such great character and integrity. Such love for the team.”
Avril has been out since the Oct. 1 home game against Indianapolis after he was kicked in the chin during a tackle. Of the surgery, Carroll offered no specifics, saying of Avril’s choice, “We’re really happy about that; he needs to get all fixed up.”
As to Avril’s chances for recovery from surgery to play again next season, Carroll said, “Who knows? I don’t know. Guys do come back from that kind of surgery sometimes, and sometimes they don’t. Depends.
“I know you want more on this stuff, but I’m trying to respect their situations as much as I can. They give me a little that opens the door. They don’t want to talk about this stuff either right now, any more than they have to. I hope you respect that.”
Carroll dismissed a question about whether older players are more likely to stop playing than younger players seeking second contracts.
“I don’t speculate on guys and their ages,” he said. “Each one is an individual. We try to support them, guide them and help them. I don’t know how to speculate about that.”
Last week Carroll said the neck injuries, while similar in circumstances, were not alike medically, but did not elaborate.
Chancellor signed earlier in the year a three-year contract extension for $36 million, $25 million guaranteed, with $13 million paid upon signing. Avril had one more year on his $28 million deal he signed in 2014.
The absences of three important starters have cast a dramatic shadow over the 7-4 Seahawks season, which gets its biggest test in prime time Sunday night at home against Philadelphia.
The Eagles, winners of nine in a row with the NFL’s best record at 10-1, are four-point favorites at the Clink, only the second time in the Russell Wilson era that the Seahawks have been underdogs at home. They have a two-game home losing streak after three-point defeats to Washington and Atlanta, the latter a three-point favorite.
After beating Chicago 31-3 Sunday, the Eagles have scored at least 30 points in six of their past seven games.
Carroll said he expects rookie CB Shaquill Griffin to return from a concussion. He sat out the 49ers game, which had Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane start at the corners, while Bradley McDougald started at Chancellor’s strong safety spot.
The 49ers started a rookie, C.J. Beathard, at quarterback, until the final minute when an injury allowed Jimmy Garappolo to throw a touchdown pass on the final play in his first action as Niners QB.
“I thought the corners did OK, played all right,” Carroll said. “McDougald was all over the field, making hits and tackles. I think we’re going to be OK. Better than I think everybody thinks.
“It’s gonna be harder with the quarterback (Carson Wentz, in the talk for MVP) this week. But I think we’re OK. We have the experience and the wherewithal. I’m not worried about that at all. We can be very consistent in (denying) the running game, and guys are smart on the back end, so we got a shot.”
On offense, Carroll anticipates the return of RB Mike Davis from a groin injury. In his first start for Seattle against the Falcons, he made a positive impression and could start again Sunday, health permitting.
“I know it sounds crazy, but I think things are coming together now — what a good time,” Carroll said of the run game after 90 yards on the ground in 30 carries against the Niners. Citing the return of LG Luke Joeckel to pair with LT Duane Brown, he said, “We missed a couple things, but I think it will come together because (Brown and Joeckel) are really smart. (RG Ethan) Pocic is too.
“All of that adds up, if we can keep everybody together practicing.”